Opinion / Economy

Questions to think 'out of the box'

By Marcos Fava Neves (chinadaily.com.cn) Updated: 2012-08-27 08:55

In one of our classes at the University of São Paulo we dedicated to read and discuss the management behaviour of Steve Jobs, based on the book and a recent article at Harvard Business Review, both written by Walter Isaacson, that tells "the real leadership lessons of Steve Jobs".

It is an interesting reading about a person and a style that created one of the most spectacular companies in the last century: Apple. After the readings and the class discussion I had the idea to raise several questions that characterized his behaviour and Apple's behaviour, together with other questions created by our team to help in a strategic planning discussion, to help in a company's strategy workshop in order to try to think "out of the box".

Here are the questions:

1. How can a company use the concept of building relationships in its value chain and which relationships could be profitable to be created by the company?

2. How to personalize (customize) the companies offer in order to satisfy individuals in a cost effective way?

3. How to organize a whole service package in a selling relationship to a particular costumer in order to make his purchasing experience interesting and also profitable for the company?

4. How to list and how to decide what will not be done by the organization, in terms of business, products, services or other activities, or even by individuals?

5. What are the ten most relevant things we, as a company, will do next?

6. In which of these ten relevant things should we, as a company, focus?

7. How to make the offer of the company simpler for the consumer?

8. Analyzing the whole purchasing experience or the product usage process, which parts are not needed and could be removed?

9. Which alternatives would be time saving for our clients?

10. In order to try to understand our competitors behavior, a nice question to ask is how can we cannibalize our offer?

11. About seeing the future, an intriguing question is how to read things that are not yet at the page?

12. In order to be more effective in our activities, or within our companies projects, how to get our minds around it (a particular activity) and do it (make it happen)?

13. How can we improve our "face to face" interactions, or the personal touch of the company?

14. In order to have at the same time, a broader and a specific view of a particular situation or about a business, how to capture the big picture and also the details?

15. To promote better management with a scientific approach, what are the ideas to integrate people (humanities) to science?

16. In order to have great teams in our companies, how to recruit, maintain and motivate talents?

17. To improve the possible positive influence and example, how to use/spread personal skills of the leader within the organization?

18. Intuition may collaborate to several decisions, bringing sensitiveness and the human part of business, and for this to happen, how to take advantage and also to filter the effects of intuition?

19. How to transfer the admired concept and DNA of the company to the offer (product + service)?

20. How to permanently reset (innovate/rethink) the company in order to create an organization that may revolutionize people's lives or even business history in a sustainable and profitable way?

Here is our contribution to China Daily readers based on reading about Steve Jobs and Apple, in order to help managers of private and public organizations.

It is a list of 20 questions to be worked in some meetings in order to generate possible answers that will insight great ideas and subsequently, structured projects for improving the value of the organization.

These could be selected according to criteria of the 5 to 10 most relevant ones for the organization, since part of them will bring the same answers. Hope it can be a useful management tool.

The author is professor of strategic planning and food chains at the School of Economics and Business, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil (www.favaneves.org) and international speaker. Author of 25 books published in 8 countries and in China, "The World on the Tongue".

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